TWINKLING trees, dazzling displays, camels and carols were some of the reasons 16,000 people flocked to South Tyneside over the Christmas season.
The borough received record numbers of visitors to its Christmas Wonderland programme of events, activities and entertainment over the Christmas period.
Up to 16,000 people – an increase of nearly 3,000 people on the previous year – enjoyed the range of family friendly celebrations, which ran throughout November and December.
The biggest crowd recorded was at the second annual camel procession and St Hilda’s lights display.
More than 6,000 people turned up to see the Three Wise Men on camels and enjoy live music, brass bands, carol singing and entertainment in South Shields Market Square.
X Factor winner Joe McElderry pulled in a crowd of up to 4,000 people when he returned to his hometown to switch on the Christmas displays in South Shields Town Centre and wowed audiences with his golden voice. Around 1,000 visitors enjoyed dazzling lights switch on events in Hebburn and Jarrow town centres.
Coun Alan Kerr, deputy leader at South Tyneside Council with responsibility for culture and leisure, said: “Our Christmas Wonderland programme has been a tremendous success and it was wonderful to see so many families enjoying the celebrations.
“We had an amazing line up of events with something for all ages to enjoy from camels and carols to lights and live music. The feedback we have received has been extremely positive and we are delighted that residents and visitors had a great time.”
A Christmas Fair returned to Haven Point leisure centre for two days with more than 60 stalls selling everything from gifts to food and crafts. Around 4,000 people visited over the weekend – up by 1,000 visitors compared to the year before.
Plus 750 people enjoyed meeting two of Santa’s reindeer in South Shields Market Square on the three Saturdays in the run up to Christmas.
Other highlights in the Christmas Wonderland programme included a Winter Festival Day in Whitburn, with stalls, carols and face painting just some of the things on offer. Scores of children also took the opportunity to meet Santa at Jingle Bell Square at South Shields Museum and Art Gallery.
Coun Kerr added: “We would like to thank all our partners for their support with our events programme and helping to make it a huge success.
“We know Christmas is a long way off but we are already thinking about our 2015 Christmas programme. We look forward to welcoming visitors back this year for another seasonal spectacular.”